Confession: I rarely go to bars anymore, so people who know me might find it a little odd that I’m writing about one now. I’d rather go to cafes or coffee shops, you see. It’s not that I don’t enjoy bars – I’ve just found that, in my experience, many of the drinking establishments in Jakarta exude that Bro Energy. If you’re a woman, you probably know what I mean – you’ve got to assemble a group of friends you’re comfortable with, and once we’re there, we’re all always paying attention the whole time to make sure everyone in the group is OK, and not being harassed somehow.
Then I heard about Bar Gina. They called themselves a feminist bar, the first of its kind in Jakarta. Bar Gina was established by three women in their mid-20s, who got their inspiration from the feminist or women-exclusive bars that are popping up with more frequency in NYC and other cities around the world. I was delighted at the news.
“Great, I need to take my girlfriends there,” I thought, but also — what kind of place is a feminist bar? What makes it “feminist”?
Bar Gina actually opened almost half a year ago, and I finally got to go on a recent Thursday night with two of my friends. As soon as I got there, the bar’s logo really caught my eye – excellent, on brand design there. There are four things symbolized in the logo, but for now, try to guess where they got their name from.
In front of the door, we were greeted with neon signage of a woman with the caption: “Sometimes the world sucks so I go to my own”.
Inside, Bar Gina looked just as I had imagined – it’s not too dimly lit, nor dominated by fluorescent pink lighting. There is pink in the décor, though it’s used tastefully (I don’t believe in restricting colors to certain genders, but nothing screams “ladies” like the color pink).
On one side of the wall, there’s a re-imagined The Last Supper mural with a feminist twist: The faces of Jesus and the apostles are all changed into the faces of modern female icons — former First Lady Michelle Obama, musician Yoko Ono, artist Yayoi Kusama, Oprah Winfrey, and even animated ones like Lisa Simpson and Miss Piggy.
Cheeky name and logo aside, Bar Gina also expresses its feminist spirit in how its proprietors run the business. It’s about inclusivity here, so people of all genders are welcomed here.
“Bar Gina wants to be a safe space for everyone, regardless of their identities. And yes, everyone can wear whatever they like without being afraid of getting judged, or harassed,” Bar Gina’s Head of PR and Marketing, Rani, told me.
But, how do they make sure that there will be no harassment — particularly sexual harassment — occurring under their roof?
“Our staff are going around the place to make sure that no one will make a scene, or making unwanted advances. If someone incites chaos or sexually harasses other patrons, we’ll kick them out,” Rani said.
Since they opened their doors in October 2018, however, they haven’t had to kick anyone out for making such distressing moves. We’re glad to hear it — and hopefully, they will never have to do it ever, either.
But, of course, we’re here to drink, and so let’s get on to the imbibing experience.
We tried four cocktails from the drinks menu: two signatures – the Bangkok Dangerous and Between Moods — and two recently introduced drinks, the Lady Boss and Redhead Gypsy.
You know the conventional idea that women just like sweet, fruity cocktails and don’t want to taste the actual alcohol within it? Yeah, they don’t really prescribe to that belief here. The Bangkok Dangerous is Thai Iced Tea-based and I was pleasantly surprised by how prominent the flavors of dark rum came through. The fact that I got buzzed in such a short amount of time was an added bonus, tee hee.
The Between Moods is a pandan-infused white rum drink, though, but because I’m personally not into pandan drinks (yeah, sue me), this one was just not for me.
I was, however, digging their two newest cocktails: Lady Boss (butterfly pea vodka, lemon juice, and vanilla) which carried a tart, berry-ish flavor, and the Redhead Gypsy (rose gin, rose water, grenadine, and orange juice), with a distinct rosemary aroma.
I didn’t get to try it this time, but did notice that the bar’s Long Island Iced Tea comes served in a delightful ceramic glass shaped like a naked woman’s body, complete with ceramic boobs. Rani tells us that the owners came up with the idea and made the glasses themselves.
Not only that, Rani told me that the three owners also crafted the cocktails menu. I really appreciate it when the owners of an establishment or a brand gives their personal touch (or cheekiness, in that matter) – which they really did here at Bar Gina.
As for the food, Bar Gina focuses more on snacks – there are only two main courses on the menu, the Squid Ink Fried Rice and Ox Tongue Rice Cabe Ijo (green chili).
We tried two dishes off of the Bites category on their menu, Taiwanese Salt and Pepper Popcorn Chicken and Truffle Fries. They were both tasty, though the popcorn chicken was a tad dry and the outer layer didn’t seem to absorb the seasonings well. However, our table appreciated that they weren’t too oily despite being deep-fried, and that the serving sizes were enough to satiate three hungry women.
Aside from their classic and signature cocktails, Bar Gina also has a selection of craft beer, as well as bottle service for vodka, tequila, rum, cognac, and other liquors. Your non-boozing friends can also join you at Bar Gina, since there’s also plenty of non-alcoholic drinks like iced tea, soft drinks, and juice to choose from.
Price-wise, I think the offerings at Bar Gina are within the standards of Senopati-Suryo establishments: classic cocktails are priced at IDR 110K++ (US$7.7) each, and Bar Gina’s signature craft cocktails range between IDR 135K++ and IDR 145K++ (US$9.5 to US$10.2).
Bottle service will cost you a bit more — that ranges from IDR 1,2 million++ to IDR 8,5 million++ (US$84.30 to US$597).
The food menu consists of mostly bar bites, which range from IDR 55K to IDR 85K (US$3.86 to US$5.97) each, and the aforementioned mains, the rice bowls, are IDR 100K (US$7) per order.
There are different drink promos on offer every day, which you can check here. Live music performances are held each evening from Wednesday to Saturday, and everyone is free to request any song — or maybe if you’re in the mood, sing on stage. I did. It was awesome.
For me, at least.
My friends and I ended the night by belting out Adele’s “Chasing Pavements” and Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” with the house band of the night. All in all, we loved the vibe here, and I’m personally looking forward to trying out the other cocktails – we can already tell that this was just the first of many ladies’ nights to come at Bar Gina.
Bar Gina is at Jl. Suryo No. 42, Senopati, South Jakarta
Open Monday-Thursday 6pm-12am, Friday-Saturday 6pm-2.30am, closed on Monday
Phone: +62 21 227 721 41